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    • Grant Recipient Pays it Forward with Major Gift

    • Martin R. Prince, M.D., Ph.D., knows better than most the power of an RSNA Research & Education (R&E) Foundation grant. That is why he recently made a gift to endow the new Prince Research Resident Grant.

      When he was a first-year resident, Dr. Prince was inspired by a fellow resident who secured an NIH grant. A relatively new member of RSNA, Dr. Prince looked to the R&E Foundation. He was awarded one of the Foundation’s first Research Resident Grants in 1991.

      “The incredible thing about the Research Resident Grant is not only do you receive funding, but your department commits the time to allow you to do it,” Dr. Prince said. “Even without any money, dedicated research time is a great thing.”

      Before beginning his radiology residency, Dr. Prince, a mechanical engineer and master’s degree candidate, was developing a blood clot filter. The result was an incredible feat of engineering now known as the Nitinol IVC Filter. As a doctoral student, he turned his interest to the use of lasers in interventional radiology, and that was the focus of his R&E Foundation grant application. By the time the grant was funded, however, use of the stent was emerging. It was a comparatively simple and significantly less expensive application that made laser removal of arterial plaque obsolete.

      Just as he was wondering what to do with the grant for already dated research, Dr. Prince heard a game-changing lecture by Professor E. James Potchen, M.D., of Michigan State University, about MR angiography.

      Dr. Prince was immediately inspired by the idea of vascular imaging. He called the R&E Foundation and explained he wanted to use MR imaging technology instead. He was thrilled with the response.

      “They told me, ‘Your inspiration is more important than what was in an application you wrote a year ago. We want you to be successful,’” he remembered. “I thought that was fantastic!” Because of restraints on healthcare facility costs, Massachusetts General Hospital, where Dr. Prince was a resident, installed an MR scanner off property in Charlestown. None of the doctors wanted to go there to do scans, so he volunteered to take those cases. It was a unique opportunity for a young resident.
      Dr. Prince produced beautiful images, causing a surge in orders, and the gadolinium was quickly disappearing. To move his work forward, he invested $5,000 of his grant funds in more gadolinium. He realized the key to getting a clear image lies in the timing of the injection of the contrast agent relative to mapping of the center of k-space. That early discovery led to a series of advances and eventually to the development of robust contrast-enhanced and bolus chase MR angiography, which has since been commercialized by scanner manufacturers.

      His early success as a researcher helped Dr. Prince secure an assistant professorship and position as Co-Director of MRI just one year out of radiology residency. His next promotion was directly to full professor at Weill Cornell Medical Center. He has since had the opportunity to turn his ambitions outward. Now he is shifting his focus to maximizing the positive impact he can have on the practice, society and his family.

      “I love being on the front line tinkering, discovering and doing the research,” he explained. “But I realize I need to work on transferring those skills to others, helping other people successfully navigate that career ladder.”

      He has been doing just that for a number of years now, mentoring residents at both Cornell and Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons.

      Dr. Prince has enjoyed remarkable success with the patents that have resulted from his research. He decided to use a portion of those royalty earnings to establish the Martin R. Prince Foundation. It is through that Foundation that he created the endowment for the Prince Research Resident Grant.

      “I’ve realized I can have an impact that goes beyond my local institution,” he said. “I thought, what better cause could I support than the R&E Foundation, which has a great track record and with which I have personal experience.” The first Prince Research Resident grant will be awarded in 2014.
       
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